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Fellowes fears Melbourne Cup changes may rule out European challenge

Charlie Fellowes believes the changes to Melbourne Cup qualification criteria will make it “nigh on impossible” for European-trained horses to compete in Australia’s greatest race.

A series of new measures are to be brought in to combat what officials felt was an unacceptable rate of injuries and fatalities – mainly to overseas contenders.

The number of international horses permitted  at the Werribee International Quarantine Centre will be limited to 24 – down from 42 in 2018 – and those horses will be allowed just one run in Australia before their Cup challenge.

They will also have to undergo a series of tests before travelling, at their owners’ expense, have tests once they arrive in Australia and comply with pre-race checks while in quarantine.

Prince Of Arran has taken Fellowes all around the world
Prince Of Arran has taken Fellowes all around the world (Mathea Kelley/JCSA)

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Any horse who has suffered a previous fracture will be denied the opportunity, as will those who have undergone orthopaedic surgery.

Fellowes has enjoyed great success with Prince Of Arran in Australia, who has been placed in the race three times as well as winning the Lexus Stakes and the Geelong Cup.

He said: “I completely understand that changes had to be made. I get that this wonderful race is under pressure from animal welfare groups, which I have seen at first hand on my trips.

“Yes it is a minority, but we see them when we do the parade and something had to be done. For that, I feel very sorry for the RV (Racing Victoria) and the organisers because they’ve been put between a rock and a hard place.

“However, I feel they have been brutally unlucky and I worry that the measures outlined in the report that European-trained horses are going to have to pass are basically impossible.

“There are a few parts in the report that actually don’t make sense, and I feel incredibly sad that it will now be nigh on impossible to take a horse down there – and I have loved every minute of my trips to Australia.”

Fellowes fears it could have a major impact on the number of horses leaving the UK to race permanently in Australia, too.

He added: “I think it is potentially disastrous for European trainers, because any horse deemed good enough to run in the Melbourne Cup will now be realistically moved to Australia to race – where they will not have to go through the same veterinary checks that they will if the same horse is with a European trainer.

“So, it will result in us losing more horses. John Gosden’s comments recently of Britain turning into a nursery for other racing jurisdictions rings even truer this morning – and I think it is a very sad day.

“It really is the most wonderful race and it is incredibly sad what has happened. I believe there are other changes which could have been made that haven’t, that wouldn’t have restricted Europeans going there and would have helped prevent further injuries from happening.

“Look at Royal Ascot this year without the Australian sprinters. When they come they add so much to the meeting – and when they don’t it is to the detriment of Royal Ascot. That is why Ascot have a team who go around the world trying to get them to come and race in England, which is welcomed.

“It is very sad that it will not be happening to the Melbourne Cup.”

Joseph O’Brien strikes Melbourne gold again with Twilight Payment

Joseph O’Brien once again denied his father Aidan in the Lexus Melbourne Cup as Twilight Payment made all to lift the Group One contest at Flemington.

The trainer registered his first win when Rekindling held off O’Brien snr’s Johannes Vermeer by half a length in 2017, and the distance was the same this time around as Tiger Moth just failed to reel in the Jye McNeil-ridden winner.

Charlie Fellowes’ British raider Prince Of Arran, placed in the last two Melbourne Cups, came agonisingly close to victory once again, finishing with purpose to be beaten a head in third in a race that was marred by the death of last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, who was euthanised after fracturing a fetlock.

Of beating his father once again in the Australian event, O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “We both realise how hard it is to win on the world stage in these big, big races, but I am very lucky that I have been able to win a couple of big races.

“Dad has been very lucky, he has won a lot of big races, I’d be delighted for him if he had won, and I’m sure he is for me having won. We do our best on the track and whatever happens out there happens.

“I was really too nervous to see what was going to happen. I was hardly able to watch, but it was a fantastic ride by Jye and a fantastic effort by all the lads with the horse.”

McNeil executed a perfect front-running ride, with the field well strung out on the home turn before Twilight Payment, who was previously trained by Jim Bolger and finished 11th in the race last year, kept finding for pressure in the finish.

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McNeil told www.racing.com: “I encouraged him (Twilight Payment) to go forward, because that was the plan. Then he just found such a lovely tempo at the top. It was just a matter of amping the rhythm up at just the right stage and I am glad it all worked out.

“Joseph wanted me to be a step ahead of the field and really get them chasing. What he lacks in class, he makes up in his staying ability.

“I’m peaking on my run 200m out. I’m using all of my might not to use too many whips, very vocal, trying to encourage him.

“It was very surreal crossing the line in front. I’ve got goosebumps from then and they’re still here now.”

O’Brien added: “Jye gave the horse a fantastic ride. Credit goes to the lads who have looked after Twilight Payment for the last month or so. They’ve done a fantastic job with the horses down there.”

Kerrin McEvoy was thrilled with Tiger Moth’s effort in second, beaten half a length, on what was only his fifth career start, but there was a sting in the tail for the rider, who was fined $50,000 and banned for 13 meetings for misusing his whip.

McEvoy pleaded guilty to the charge after it was found he hit Moth 13 times before the 100-metre (half-furlong) mark and 21 times in total. He is not permitted to strike his mount more than five times before the 100-metre mark.

Tiger Moth finished second for Aidan O'Brien
Tiger Moth finished second for Aidan O’Brien (PA)

McEvoy said: “It was a great run for a young horse having only his fifth start in a race. He’s run really well.”

Fellowes and rider Jamie Kah were ruing their luck after Prince Of Arran endured a troubled passage at the top of the straight, before flying home to claim third, adding to his second of last year and third in 2018.

The Newmarket handler said: “He’s a remarkable horse. He’s done everything right and if he had enjoyed a bit more luck, he could well have gone even closer.

“He was just very unlucky on the home bend. Jamie had him in a perfect position, she got him into a good rhythm and then he couldn’t find a run, which we knew was a risk from his draw, but he’s run a great race.

“Take nothing away from the winner though – Jye McNeil gave him a brilliant and brave ride from the front and he got his fractions absolutely spot on. The best horse won on the day.”

Prince Of Arran is now likely to head to the Saudi Cup meeting at Riyadh in February, with Fellowes not planning too far ahead with his stable star.

He added: “I just felt this year was his year. He had a perfect preparation and it looked a winnable race, but we just needed a bit more luck.

Prince Of Arran was placed once again
Prince Of Arran was placed once again (Graham Clark/PA)

“We will get him home and see how he is, but Saudi Arabia would likely be the next stop.

“We will just take it one race at a time with him. He’s a seven-year-old and while he does save a bit for himself, which perhaps could give him a longer shelf life at that top level, if ever we were worried about him, either in preparation or after a race, we wouldn’t take any chances.

“He’s an amazing horse and owes us nothing.”

Anthony Van Dyck sustains fatal Melbourne Cup injury

Anthony Van Dyck, winner of last year’s Derby, has been euthanised after fracturing a fetlock in the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old famously prevailed in a tight finish to the Epsom Classic last term and struck gold in the Prix Foy at ParisLongchamp in September, beating three-times Gold Cup hero Stradivarius.

Anthony Van Dyck was saddled with top weight in the Melbourne Cup after being edged out in the Caulfield Cup on his most recent outing, but he was pulled up by Hugh Bowman in the feature race.

Racing Victoria’s executive general manager – integrity services, Jamie Stier said: “It is with sadness that we confirm that Anthony Van Dyck had to be humanely euthanised after sustaining a fractured fetlock during the running of the Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

“The horse received immediate veterinary care, however he was unable to be saved due to the nature of the injury sustained.

“Our sympathies are extended to the owners of Anthony Van Dyck, trainer Aidan O’Brien and all his staff who cared for the horse and are greatly saddened by their loss.”

Stier added a fatality report will now be prepared by the RV integrity services team as is standard practice.

He said: “The fatality report gives consideration to the circumstances of the incident and any potential learnings to assist in the prevention of similar injuries in the future.

“The report will include the findings of a post-mortem which will now be conducted by the University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic and we expect it will be several weeks before we have a completed report for consideration.”

Anthony Van Dyck won six of his 19 starts, amassing over £2.3 million in prize money, with the son of Galileo also counting the Tyros Stakes, the Futurity and Lingfield Derby Trial amongst his victories.

The Victoria Racing Club tweeted: “The Victoria Racing Club extends its condolences to the owners, trainer Aidan O’Brien and his team who cared for Anthony Van Dyck and are saddened by their loss. We would like to thank the track and veterinary staff for their prompt and humane care of the horse.

“The Club remains totally committed to the welfare of all equine athletes and the ongoing focus on their wellbeing and will continue to work with the industry to understand the cause of this incident.”

Joseph O’Brien bags second Melbourne Cup with Twilight Payment

Joseph O’Brien sent out his second winner of the Lexus Melbourne Cup as Twilight Payment triumphed in the Group One contest at Flemington.

O’Brien claimed the two-mile event with Rekindling in 2017 and he again was on the mark as Jye McNeil’s mount fended off Tiger Moth, trained by O’Brien’s father Aidan, to take the prize.

Charlie Fellowes’ British raider Prince Of Arran, placed in the last two Melbourne Cups, again finished with a flourish to take third.

However, the race was marred by a fatal injury to last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, who was euthanised after fracturing a fetlock.

McNeil had his mount prominent throughout with Tiger Moth also to the fore in the early stages before settling back into third.

With five furlongs to run, the 23-strong field was well strung out and Twilight Payment was winding it up in front and Twilight Payment had lengths to spare entering the closing stages.

However, Tiger Moth charged home late, but Joseph O’Brien again denied his father, as he did three years ago when Rekindling beat Johannes Vermeer.

Joseph O'Brien is now a dual Melbourne Cup winner
Joseph O’Brien is now a dual Melbourne Cup winner (PA)

O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “Jye gave the horse a fantastic ride. Credit goes to the lads who have looked after Twilight Payment for the last month or so. They’ve done a fantastic job with the horses down there.

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“This was our first full year with him, he came to us halfway through last year. Going through the summer, he ran a couple of huge races at the Curragh.

“I was worried today he might have got a bit of pressure on the lead, but the horse has an incredible heart and Jye gave him a fantastic ride and he has a huge will to win.”

Twilight Payment was previously trained by Jim Bolger, until he was bought by Lloyd Williams, who also owned Rekindling.

O’Brien said: “It’s a privilege to train for the people that I train for and the horses that we have.

“We really appreciate the support and the success when it comes, but it’s a tough game as everybody knows and it’s a fine line from the top and the bottom. I’m just very appreciative.

“The proof that he got the fractions spot on is watching the race when you see Tiger Moth finish, but the horse is incredible and I’m just thankful of the support and the work everyone has done with the horse, at home as well.”

Aidan O'Brien had to settle for second behind Joseph again
Aidan O’Brien had to settle for second behind Joseph again (PA)

Of beating his father once again in the Australian event, O’Brien added: “We both realise how hard it is to win on the world stage in these big, big races, but I am very lucky that I have been able to win a couple of big races.

“Dad has been very lucky, he has won a lot of big races, I’d be delighted for him if he had won, and I’m sure he is for me having won. We do our best on the track and whatever happens out there happens.

“I was really too nervous to see what was going to happen. I was hardly able to watch, but it was a fantastic ride by Jye and a fantastic effort by all the lads with the horse.”

Tiger Moth finished second for Aidan O'Brien
Tiger Moth finished second for Aidan O’Brien (PA)

Kerrin McEvoy was thrilled with Tiger Moth’s effort in second, beaten half a length, on what was only his fifth career start.

He told www.racing.com: “We were able to get across into a nice spot. We dropped in and got a nice lead and he travelled really well.

“The winner kept running, I just had to pick up to get into the race, which he did, but the winner was just a bit strong today.

“It was a great run for a young horse having only his fifth start in a race. He’s run really well.”

Prince Of Arran was finishing fastest of all at the line and jockey Jamie Kah was left ruing her luck after their three-quarter-length defeat.

She said: “He was super unlucky. He really deserves it. He just had no luck on the turn.”

Fellowes tweeted: “Incredibly proud of Prince Of Arran. Another wonderful run in Australia’s great race. Thank you
@AledBeech for looking after him so well, thank you Jamie Kah for a lovely ride, thank you to the Obaida family for sending him to me to train. 4th time lucky next year?”

Dashing Willoughby finished down the field at Flemington
Dashing Willoughby finished down the field at Flemington (Bill Selwyn/PA)

The Willie Mullins-trained Stratum was 20th and jockey Jordan Childs said: “He ran OK. We got up on a nice spot, travelled good. They were just a bit slick for him when the pace quickened.”

Dashing Willoughby beat just one horse home for trainer Andrew Balding.

His rider Michael Walker said: “He’s not right, the horse. He’s not right. Action-wise he’s not right.”

German runner Ashrun finished 10th while last year’s winner Vow And Declare was 18th.

Monday Musings: Wishing to be elsewhere…

I’m getting onto my travel agent (actually I don’t have one any more as I’ve been nowhere for ages) this morning, writes Tony Stafford. I’ll be trying to find the best (and obviously cheapest) way of getting to my new favourite place, Mata’utu, capital of the little-known Wallis and Fortuna Islands.

You didn’t know it was a country? Nor did I till yesterday when hard on the latest lockdown news, I thought it was time to rekindle my spring and summer obsession with Covid-19 and the statistics thereof.

When, two months ago, August in the UK ended with two deaths and September began with three, we all knew that racing’s apparently idiotic continuation with strict separation of limited-allowed owners from their trainers and jockeys had been way over the top. As I’ve said before, I’ve not gone racing since Cheltenham, but why couldn’t you talk in close company to trainers and jockeys when you could meet them in the pub freely before or after the races?

Now we learn that it was precisely because of how draconian it had all seemed that racing now can continue. The situation with owners has yet to be determined but if we don’t want the rest of society to get the hump, maybe it’s best to give that concession. Well done BHA.

Where so recently there were two and three fatalities, two months on it was 274 and 326, a neat average of 300 which is what it has been for the past five alarming days. Pubs, bars and restaurants will be packed until Wednesday and on Saturday the first sightings of the re-emerging toilet-roll hoarders supplanted the usual non-stop flow of trick-or-treaters on Hallowe’en. When I didn’t hear the one knock by would-be recipients of the goodies Mrs S as usual dutifully provided, we were treated with a raw egg thrown on the newly-cleaned front kitchen window for our pains! Messy to clean eggs are [as Yoda might say].

I thought it would be timely, now total cases in the UK have topped the million, so 14,000 per million of population, which is the ninth highest globally, to return to the subject. Deaths have risen above 46,000, fifth behind the US, France, Russia and Mexico.

Propping up the entire table at 218th – although a couple of cruise liners are included – is the above-mentioned Wallis and Fortuna Islands, which between them have recorded one case, the victim of which has happily recovered.

The islands are in the South Pacific, in between such better-known tourist spots as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, rugby nations whose influence on the game far exceeds the size of their population. Fiji has a team over in Europe at the moment. With only 34 recorded cases in the country it must have been a shock for the tour management to discover that “between five and seven” of their squad due to play an international in Paris with France next week have contracted the virus, so the match is off. Lesson for South Sea islanders: stay home!

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I love statistics. With only one now recovered case, Wallis and Gromit – sorry Fortuna – are listed on that same Worldmeters league table as having 90 cases per million of population. I’d be willing to take my chance, as long as they tell me which of the 15,289 souls from the latest census it was that copped it. Maybe he should be required to wear a badge? Not that they are a total island paradise. Even-handed Wikipedia reports that the “main health risks are mosquitos and sunburn, while drunk driving and intoxicated locals can also be a problem”. Thinking twice now, what with my skin cancer!

**

It would be tragic if racing stopped again not least because it would deny us another sighting of Saturday’s marvellous Charlie Hall Chase winner Cyrname, who put together the complete three-mile performance when cantering home a couple of lengths ahead of the doughty Vinndication.

Sometimes apparent ease can be deceptive but surely not here as Harry Cobden always looked to be in first gear all the way round two circuits of Wetherby as the rest of them huffed and puffed behind front-running Aye Right. Cobden kept Cyrname wide, possibly giving lip-service to the fact the country’s highest-rated chaser hadn’t previously won going left-handed. As the 1966 World Cup commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme would have said: “He has now!”

Stamina didn’t look a problem around a galloping track and the fences, never the easiest, were treated like the most welcoming of hurdles as he soared over them in perfect union with his jockey. Paul Nicholls ought never again to have to justify Cyrname’s being rated 4lb higher than Altior, and all of a sudden the great recent domination of Irish stables in the staying chaser ranks might well be getting properly challenged. Certainly even if he wasn’t able to stretch himself to three and a quarter miles around Cheltenham in March – and how do they bet whether we can go to see it or not? – Kempton’s King George looks a Christmas gift for Cyrname.

Meanwhile here we are at the start of November and within the next six days we will have got the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday and two days of the Breeders’ Cup in Keeneland, Lexington, Kentucky, out of the way. In other words, all the worthwhile Flat racing of 2020 will have been and gone.

The O’Briens, father and elder son are back down under again, Aidan yet to win it, with 2019 Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck who heads the weights for the 24-runner two-mile handicap, and Tiger Moth, second in the Irish Derby this year and then an easy Group 3 winner thereafter. Joseph, who has won it before, also has two chances with proven stayers Master Of Reality and Twilight Payment.

Anthony Van Dyck will have his supporters after his recent close second to Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup, for which the winner has incurred a 1lb penalty. Considering the first prize was £1,666,667 and the runner-up got £476,190, you could say that was hardly harsh treatment. Incidentally, Prince Of Arran, Charlie Fellows’ regular challenger for Australia’s biggest race, third and then second the last two years, got £114,000 for his fourth in the Caulfield Cup.

Verry Elleegant is some handicapper. This year the five-year-old mare, trained by Chris Waller, has gone to the races nine times, five before the actual end of the season in the Australian autumn. Her two best efforts before the break also earned her big money, each time running second behind William Haggas’s Addeybb and Tom Marquand as they picked up £1million plus prizes each time, at the start of his memorable year, while racing was in its lockdown phase back home.

After Verry Elleegant’s break, four more runs have followed bringing three wins including the Caulfield Cup.  All in Group 1 races, she started with a win over 7f, was then fourth over a mile, before further victories at 10f and a mile and a half. The three wins all came in photo-finishes. There must be a big chance that her toughness will be rewarded by victory in the biggest race of them all for Australians, and it comes at a time when Melbourne, so badly affected by Covid-19 earlier in the year, is celebrating as there have been no new cases anywhere in Australia on Friday and Saturday.

Presumably only insiders will be there rather than the six-figures that usually flock to Flemington  but the magic of getting up at all hours tomorrow morning to see John Berry give his usual virtuoso performance, not just on the big race, but all the supporting contests on the day, is an annual treat I don’t intend missing.

So the main tip is going to be Verry Elleegant and it will be a proper Aussie fairy story if she can do it. It’s always good though to see European trainers taking on the locals by using their training methods.

For years I’ve noticed more than a few horses run just before the big race. In the case of the Andreas Wohler four-year-old Ashrun, a son of Authorized – purchase authorized by Tony Nerses, of course! – he has run twice in the last fortnight, finishing a solid fourth to Steel Prince and ex-Hughie Morrison inmate, Le Don De Vie, in the Geelong Cup (Group 3) before as recently as Saturday coming home on top in another Group 3 at Flemington.

Unlike the brilliant home-trained mare and Anthony Van Dyck, Ashrun has no stamina worries for lasting out the two miles. In August he ran in the 1m7f Prix Kergorlay at Deauville and was a very good second, staying all the way to the line, behind Call The Wind. He gets 2lb extra for his win the other day, but again it will be a lovely story if the local pro-forma works for an invader.

Over the years, it seems, fewer Europeans attempt the costly trip across to the US to challenge for the Breeders’ Cup races and nowadays the dirt has become almost a total no-go. With five juvenile contests on Friday, the likeliest win for the invaders might be the Ballydoyle runner, Battleground, who has been reserved for the Juvenile Turf.

Royal Ascot winner Campanelle will be all the rage for Wesley Ward in either the Juvenile Turf Sprint, where she might meet Lippizanner for Aidan and the team, or the possibly easier-looking Juvenile Fillies’ Turf in which the Roger Varian-trained Nazuna might also be dangerous.

Three of the Saturday races that stick out as possible obvious chances for the travellers are the Mile, the Filly and Mare Turf, and the Turf. They could give us (yes it’s still ‘us’ even if we can’t be there!) three wins. In the F & M T Cayenne Pepper, Peaceful (my pick), and recent rivals Tarnawa and Audarya are a likely team for exotic wagering. In the Mile it’s One Master, Circus Maximus, 2,000 Guineas winner Kameko, and Irish 2,000 hero Siskin for the same bet. O’Brien (AP) and Gosden will line up with two runners each for the Turf, but this time it looks a straight match between Lord North (Gosden) and Aidan’s Magical. It has to be Magical for me and how I wish she could have had another shot at Addeybb after her luckless run at Ascot.

- TS

O’Brien out to break Melbourne Cup duck

Aidan O’Brien holds a strong hand in the Emirates Melbourne Cup with Anthony Van Dyck and Tiger Moth as he aims to break his duck in the famous race at Flemington in the early hours of Tuesday.

He has had various horses placed in the race, but the closest he has come is 2017 when Johannes Vermeer was beaten half a length by Rekindling, trained by his son Joseph.

While O’Brien has tended to run those guaranteed to stay the trip – his four-time Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats finished seventh in 2006 – this year he is sending different types.

Anthony Van Dyck came out on top in a blanket finish to win last year’s Derby at Epsom and won his first race since then in September in the Prix Foy, and was then second in the Caulfield Cup, while Tiger Moth has had just four runs in his life but he was second in the Irish Derby in June.

Tiger Moth (14) was just held off by stablemate Santiago in the Irish Derby
Tiger Moth (14) was just held off by stablemate Santiago in the Irish Derby (PA Wire)

“They are two very nice horses we sent this year – a Derby winner and an Irish Derby runner-up,” said O’Brien.

“We were very happy with Anthony Van Dyck’s run in the Caulfield Cup.

“The lads who are over there with him, and Shane who rides him out, are all very happy with him.

“Hugh (Bowman) has sat on him a few times and has been very happy with him.

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“Tiger Moth obviously hasn’t run over there but he ran an excellent race in the Irish Derby and won well the race before he left to go to Australia.

“There wasn’t really any other race he could run in, and he was just getting in the Melbourne Cup with a nice weight, so we decided not to run him (beforehand).

“They’ve been very happy since he’s been down there – everything is very good with him, and I suppose there’s just another canter to go. I’m hoping they both run well.”

Because of travel difficulties presented by the pandemic, none of O’Brien’s usual jockeys is making the trip. But he has employed two of the best Australia has ever seen in Bowman, known for his association with Winx, and Kerrin McEvoy, familiar to a British audience thanks to his ties with Godolphin.

“We’ve got one drawn inside (Anthony Van Dyck in three) and one on the outside (Tiger Moth 23) – so who knows, we’ll see how that plays out,” added O’Brien.

“I’ll be speaking to both Hugh and Kerrin before the race, and see what the lads think.

“I’m delighted to have the two of them – they are two great riders with great experience.”

Asked if he has modified his approach to the race this year, he said: “I’m not sure. I’ve obviously never won it, but we’ve taken some very good horses out.

“These are two high-class colts who get a mile and a half well, so we’ll see how they do. It’s always a great race – different this year with no crowd I’m sure, but exciting all the same.”

Charlie Fellowes is becoming something of a celebrity Down Under thanks to the exploits of Prince Of Arran, who has been placed in the race for the past two years.

“I’m gutted that I’m not over there,” he said.

“Melbourne has been a huge part of my life for the last two years.

“I’d give a lot to be there right now, but there are bigger things going on in the world.

“The horse has done it all before – he knows what to expect, and I know everything is being done as if I was there.”

Prince Of Arran is in stall one and will be ridden by Jamie Kah – the same stall from which Prince Of Penzance left, when creating history under Michelle Payne in 2015.

“The more I think about stall one the happier I am,” Fellowes added, on Australian radio station RSN.

“He’s clever, he’s seven – and there’s a reason he’s still at the top of his game, he’s looked after himself by only doing what he has to, so an inside barrier makes life easier.

“When he gets too much daylight that is when he thinks it is job done. If he flops out of the gate we might have a problem, but I’m pretty confident that is not going to happen.

“The last two years, our ‘Derby’ has been the race before the Melbourne Cup – to get into it. This year we’ve known we were going to be in, so I’ve almost been able to take my time and we’ve kept him fresh – knowing the first Tuesday in November is the day that really matters.

“Obviously Michelle Payne won it on Prince Of Penzance from stall one, so we’re hoping Jamie can win from stall one on another Prince. Jamie is on a roll, and everything she sits on she thinks she’s going to win.”

Joseph O’Brien runs Master Of Reality, fourth last year, and Twilight Payment – while Andrew Balding’s Dashing Willoughby and Willie Mullins’ Stratum Albion (known at home as Stratum) complete the British and Irish challenge.

Sir Dragonet, formerly housed at Ballydoyle and winner of the Cox Plate, is the shortest-priced of the home contenders.

Fellowes content with Melbourne Cup draw for Prince Of Arran

Charlie Fellowes expressed his satisfaction after Prince Of Arran was drawn in stall one for Tuesday’s Lexus Melbourne Cup.

The seven-year-old is bidding to make it third time lucky in the Flemington showpiece, having finished third behind Charlie Appleby’s Cross Counter in 2019 and been placed second, after passing the post third, in last year’s renewal.

Prince Of Arran warmed up for ‘the race that stops a nation’ by finishing a close-up fourth in the Caulfield Cup two and a half weeks ago and Fellowes is looking forward to his latest challenge.

“I think the draw is fine. We can ride a race from there and get plenty of cover,” said the Newmarket-based trainer.

“It’s better than being caught out wide. It should be relatively straightforward.”

Prince Of Arran is part of a final field of 24 runners, with Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Anthony Van Dyck and Tiger Moth having mixed fortunes in the all-important barrier draw.

Caulfield Cup runner-up Anthony Van Dyck appears well placed in stall three, but Irish Derby runner-up Tiger Moth – who was last seen landing a Group Three at Leopardstown in September – is drawn second widest of all in gate 23.

Former Ballydoyle inmate Sir Dragonet, who won the Cox Plate on his first start for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, is in stall 14, while Joseph O’Brien’s pair of Master Of Reality and Twilight Payment will break from gates 11 and 12 respectively.

The Willie Mullins-trained Stratum Albion (nine) and Andrew Balding’s Dashing Willoughby (19) are the other European challengers along with Andreas Wohler’s Ashrun (24), who sealed his place in the field with a short-heard victory in the Lexus Hotham Stakes on Saturday.

Prince Of Arran all set for Melbourne Cup again

Trainer Charlie Fellowes is looking forward to Prince Of Arran trying to improve on his already fine record in the Emirates Melbourne Cup at Flemington next month.

The seven-year-old warmed up for a third crack at the ‘race that stops a nation’ with a solid run in the Caulfield Cup on Saturday.

Prince Of Arran stayed on well in the closing stages of the mile-and-a-half feature to be beaten just two lengths in fourth place behind Verry Elleegant.

Fellowes reports the Shirocco gelding has taken the race well, despite suffering a superficial wound, and is on course for Melbourne on November 3.

The Newmarket trainer said: “He’s really good. He’s come through it well – he’s fresh and bouncing and moving well.

“He picked up a little cut on one of his front legs, but that was it. It’s nothing major at all. He seems in good form.

“It’s all systems go for the Melbourne Cup again.”

Prince Of Arran has covered himself in glory in the last two runnings of the two-mile showpiece. He was third in 2018, and was promoted to second from third spot last year.

O’Brien Australian team tested following food contamination

Aidan and Joseph O’Brien’s Australian runners have been tested by Racing Victoria after the duo were forced to pull out all their runners on Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe card due to an issue with contaminated feed.

A total of 10 horses across the two yards arrived in Melbourne on Friday night and are currently completing their two-week quarantine at the International Horse Centre in Werribee.

However, the runners, which include Melbourne Cup fancy Tiger Moth and Caulfield Cup hope Anthony Van Dyck, are all undergoing out-of-competition testing after it emerged their feed could have contained zilpaterol – potentially from batches of feed supplied by Gain Equine Nutrition.

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The O’Briens pulled out their ParisLongchamp runners after they tested positive for the banned substance, and Racing Victoria has taken samples from the team’s horses to check whether they have also been affected.

A statement said: “Racing Victoria (RV) can advise that its Integrity Services team are liaising with Irish trainers Aidan and Joseph O’Brien regarding the circumstances that led to the stable scratching runners in France and Ireland across the weekend due to concerns regarding the alleged contamination of horse feed that it utilises.

“Reports from both trainers and international racing authorities are that feed used by both stables has been found in Europe to be contaminated with the prohibited substance zilpaterol.

“Zilpaterol is classified as a beta-agonist. Beta-agonists, such as the commonly used clenbuterol, are medications that primarily have an effect on an animal’s breathing. They are permitted for therapeutic use but are a prohibited substance in a horse’s system on raceday.

“For clarity, beta-agonists are not classified as anabolic steroids under the Australian Rules of Racing and thus the detection of a beta-agonist does not carry a mandatory stand down period. Beta-agonists are also not classified as a growth hormone under the Rules of Racing.

“Following discussions with the O’Brien stables, RV stewards have today conducted out of competition testing on their horses at Werribee to determine whether zilpaterol is currently in any of the horse’s systems. The results of these tests may take up to one week.

“Furthermore, both stables have confirmed to RV stewards today that they have ceased using feed from the provider in question.

“RV stewards will continue to work with the O’Brien stables regarding the situation and will make a further comment once the result of the out of competition tests are known and the stables have been notified.”

Prince Of Arran poised for latest Australian adventure

Prince Of Arran is all set for his third attempt to win the Melbourne Cup – and his new big-race jockey should be known this weekend.

Charlie Fellowes confirmed his globetrotting stable star in perfect condition for the start of his latest adventure.

Prince Of Arran, who has been in quarantine in preparation for his 10,000-mile outward journey, will leave in the small hours of Thursday morning.

By the time he is safely settled again down under, the world may well know who is set to take over in the saddle too.

Michael Walker – who rode Prince Of Arran to be third at Flemington two years ago and then second 12 months ago, promoted from third after interference ahead of him – decided two weeks ago to switch to Dashing Willoughby this time.

On Wednesday, Fellowes said: “We are going to announce a jockey at the weekend.

“I can’t say quite now, but I think we’ve made our decision, and the plan is to announce who is going to ride then.”

Dashing Willoughby is Melbourne Cup-bound too
Dashing Willoughby is Melbourne Cup-bound too (Francesca Altoft/PA)

Prince Of Arran completed his British summer with an honourable third behind the brilliant mare Enable in Kempton’s September Stakes three weeks ago, and has since continued preparation in quarantine for his Australian schedule.

There, the seven-year-old will run in the Caulfield Cup on October 17 and then the Melbourne Cup on November 3.

“He’s really well,” added Fellowes.

“He galloped on the Limekilns on Tuesday with (Andrew Balding’s) Dashing Willoughby – they worked over seven furlongs, and they both seemed to be in great order.

“He is pretty much absolutely spot on where I want him – probably about five to 10 kilos heavy at the moment, which is great, and that gives him a bit of room for the trip down.

“Then he’ll do a couple of pieces of work down the other end.

“He’ll run in the Caulfield Cup, and then the Melbourne Cup.”